Caring About Co-Ops

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In an age of Walmarts and Home Depots, there's still a place for the corner grocer, hardware store and credit union. How do small businesses compete with giant ones? Often it's by banding together.

It’s hard not to feel a little sympathy for a small, locally owned stores or credit unions. After all, how would you like to compete with giant warehouse stores or multinational banks? But there is something that helps level the playing field for small local businesses. It’s called a coop.

“If you own a local grocery store and I own a local grocery store, we form together into a cooperative, we can buy our products more cheaply.”
-Paul Hazen, National Cooperative Business Association

So coops allow groups of small hardware or grocery stores to band together and create economies of scale so they can compete with big-box stores.

And they allow credit union members to band together and create what is essentially a non-profit bank: one that not only allows them to compete with the big boys… sometimes they even beat them.

“I have people who tell me about their 18.99 credit card rates. They have no idea that credit unions are available to give them a better deal.”
-Ralph Crockett, BrightStar Credit Union

So while you don’t hear the term very often, coop is an important word… because biggest isn’t always best.

“Cooperatives allow small business owners to remain independent and at the same time to compete in a global economy and compete against big box stores because we’re working for each other’s benefit.”
-Paul Hazen, National Cooperative Business Association

Bottom line? Co-ops help small businesses survive. And you should you. Because these businesses are often owned by your neighbors. So next time before you go shopping, think local first. Unless you want a world of Walmarts.

Stacy Johnson

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Read Next: Ask Stacy: Why Is My Bond Fund Losing Money?

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